2016 LA Motor Show: 2018 Subaru Tribeca replacement unlikely for Australia

Subaru Viziv 7 concept

THE Subaru Tribeca, the Japanese brand’s seven-seat SUV, appears set for a return in 2017 to take on the likes of the Mazda CX-9. However, it could bypass Australia altogether.

The reason? Its likely low production volume and the fact it won’t be built in Japan mean a right-hand-drive version of the full-sized three-row crossover due in 2018 is unlikely to ever pay its way.

According to Subaru, the next-generation Tribeca’s likely sole source of production – Lafayette, Indiana – and the low volumes and high costs associated with making the engineering changes to suit markets such as Australia both count against it.

Subaru -Viziv -7-concept -front -side -cliff“We have no idea if it is going to be built in right-hand drive for the Australian market,” Takeshi Tachimori, Fuji Heavy Industries’ corporate executive vice-president, said.

“You must understand we do 600,000 units in the USA plus another 50,000 units in Canada, while in Australia it's just 50,000 annually.

“So developing right-hand drive ... we are not sure if it is viable.
There are no immediate plans for right-hand drive.”

That’s a shame, because the Subaru Viziv 7 concept vehicle shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show seems to right all the wrongs of the B9 Tribeca sold in Australia for about seven years from 2006. (Before you get too confused about the concept’s name, “Viziv 7” stands for “Vision Innovative seven-seater” – that’s just what the show-car is called; the 2018 production version’s name remains a tightly held secret.)

Subaru -Viziv -7-concept -front -sideKey differences are dimensional; the Viziv 7 is significantly larger and wider than the Tribeca, coming in at 5200mm long (against 4864mm), 2030mm wide (1877mm) and 1860mm tall (versus 1687mm). The wheelbase is a whopping 2990mm, compared to 2748mm.

Cabin space, naturally, is the welcome upshot, addressing the Tribeca’s tight third row seats and lack of luggage capacity.

Interestingly, the production Viziv 7 will be built on the all-new (and much improved) 2017 Subaru Impreza’s platform, so expect to see a variety of horizontally opposed four-cylinder turbo petrol engines. Whether there will also be a ‘boxer’ six remains to be seen.

This new architecture was engineered for electrification, so we’ll be betting our bottom dollar that a petrol-electric hybrid is also in the works.

Subaru Viziv 7 concept rear sideThe extra interior space and drivelines all adhere to Subaru’s “enjoyment and peace of mind” philosophy behind its next-gen seven-seater family hauler.

“The concept expresses our core brand values; safety, dependability, capability for outdoor activities and a forward looking attitude,” Tachimori said.

“We know customers in this segment want a full-sized vehicle, and the next three-row from Subaru will be the biggest Subaru vehicle ever.”

The previous version of the Tribeca, sold here between 2006-13 was also built in the US and exported to Australia.

Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.